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Car Review: 2019 Isuzu MU-X LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu five door MU-X LS-U. It’s also available in LS-T and LS-M spec and comes in 4×2 and 4×4 driveline options. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. It’s currently available in a drive-away package (LS-U 4×4) at $50,490. Recommended retail is $52,400 plus on roads for a RRP of $57,674.Under The Bonnet Is: The rattly 3.0L that makes 130kW and a handy 430Nm of torque from 2,000 to 2,200 revs per minute. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from the 2.8L as found in the Holden Colorado…At just under 1000rpm there is 300Nm and that peak torque is on tap through a narrow rev range of just 500rpm. There’s still 350Nm available at 3,500rpm but it’s a very noisy exercise taking the engine past 3,000rpm. It’s possibly one of the noisiest diesels available in a passenger vehicle when pushed even moderately however, compared to the D-Max utes there is extra noise shielding in the engine bay and transmission tunnel. It bolts to a six speed auto with sports shift and an electronic low range locking system.Economy is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined, 9.5L/100km for the urban, and 6.9L/100km for the highway from a 76L tank. In our drive loop we saw a best of 7.8L/100km for the seven seater, and an overall average of 8.1L/100km. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.

On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, easy pull straps for the third row seats, and a raised cargo floor with covered storage behind them. As it’s clearly based on the D-Max it’s virtually identical otherwise. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the centre row passengers at this trim level. The third row seats aren’t recommended for anyone of infant or adult size.The LS-U starts with a traditional key. Isuzu fitted the review car with rubber floor mats front and rear. Only the driver has a one touch window up/down switch in both. The centre console houses the dial for the two or four wheel drive modes, and there are two bottle/cup holders. The driver and passenger have a pull out cup holder, and each door has bottle holders. Near the driver’s knee is some switchgear including one that looked like an On/Off switch for the parking sensors.Sounds come via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, with AM/FM, Bluetooth, no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, CD, USB and 3.5mm inputs, and even a HDMI connection hidden behind a flexible rubber tab at the bottom of the centre console stack. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is the same as the D-Max, meaning it really needs a massive overhaul. It also features the same driver alert warning note that will stay on screen for as long as the car is running if the OK tab isn’t touched. The driver faces a basic looking but functional dash, with a pair of dials bracketing a display screen that shows trip distances, economy, expected range, and the diesel particulate filter status. Australian spec cars have the right hand stalk as the indicator and the left as wipers, and each has a button at the end of the stalk to access the screen info. The wipers themselves aren’t auto nor is there an Auto headlight setting. This is an oversight in the interest of safety, as a driver can too easily not switch the lights on in situations such as dusk or when it’s raining.Actual switchgear is mostly well laid out and accessible with the minor accessories ports located at the bottom of the stack. The centre stack features Isuzu’s standard aircon controls, with a huge dial for temperature as the hub. Fan controls are on one side, mode on the other, and the dial itself shelters a small LCD screen to indicate what’s going on. The dash itself is a double scallop design, with a stitched leather look to the materials. Fit and finish is mostly ok however the leading edges of the doors have a gap of about a centimetre to the plastics wrapping the windscreen. The upper dash storage locker here at least did open without issue, unlike one found in the D-Max. Total cargo capacity is up to 1830L with the second and third row seats folded flat. With the third row only down it’s 878L.On The Outside It’s: Largely similar to the D-Max from the front to the rear of the second row doors. Here it’s the addition of a the big pillar, roof, and non-powered tailgate, with a towbar added here as well. Rubber is 255/60/18 H/T or Highway Terrain tread from Bridgestone. There are, though, front and rear parking sensors and the warning tone inside is a very high pitched screech, making it unmistakeable in intent. Headlights are self-levelling and there are LED driving lights. The lower front bumper is bespoke for the MU-X.

Out On The Road It’s: More of the same as that found in the D-Max. Steering is a little more assisted than the utes meaning turning and car parking driving is moderately easier. The rear suspension is a rigid live axle and coil springs, with the front being coil springs and gas shocks. Ride is more composed, more family friendly. The engine is the same rackety clackety noisy, just muted thanks to that extra insulation. It’s the same thrashy rattle from a start when pushed, more restrained off throttle, and almost invisible on idle and in cruise. It’s a determined load lugger too, and in no way can it be considered sporting. There’s a moment of turbo lag before the engine gets lively, and even then it’s a relaxed, don’t hurry we’ll get there, proposition.The transmission is the same in that it’s mostly smooth, will drop a cog or two for downhill runs and engine braking, but will exhibit moments of indecisive shifting as well. On a normal acceleration run it’s slurry with hints of change, will downshift after a pause when the accelerator is pushed, but it’s a leisurely progression forward.

On the upside it’s a brilliant highway cruiser. That relaxed attitude sees the legal freeway speed ticking the engine over at 1800rpm and it’s here that it’s in airplane cruise mode. You know it’s there but it’s settled into the deep thrum that eventually becomes background noise. There is some road noise and the handling shows that the mixed terrain tyres are a compromise at best on tarmac. The front end of the MU-X is prone to running wide but not as wide as the D-Max, and it’s not helped by a steering ratio that has the nose move barely from a quarter to half turn of the wheel. It’s great when off-roading where that flexibility is needed, but normal driving needs something tighter. Also, the steering isn’t as assisted as that found in the MU-X, meaning more arm effort is required.Brake pedal feel is nearly as numb as the D-Max, with perhaps a bit more initial feedback on the downward travel.

The four wheel drive system is electronic and Isuzu call it Terrain Command. Up to 100km/h the car will accept a change to 4WD high range, but for low range it must be stopped, and the transmission placed in neutral. A push of the cabin dial, a clunk as the transfer case engages, and the MU-X will be ready to get dirty. By the way, this is the only drive mode change available, there are no programs for Snow, Mud, etc. Approach angle is 30.0 degrees, with a departure angle of 22.7 degrees. Rollover angle is good too, with 22.3 degrees available.

The Level Of Safety Is: Average. The mandated safety systems are here, there are six airbags, Hill Start and Hill Descent control are here but there is no Autonomous Emergency Braking, no Blind Spot Detection, no Rear Cross Traffic Warning. However, the ABS is a properly sorted four channel system and the reverse camera is of a reasonable quality. Underneath the 4×4 capable MU-X is a sump guard plate that also covers the electrically driven transfer case.

And The Warranty Is: Now up, to counterbalance the price rise, to six years/150,000 kilometres. Roadside assistance is also six years, up from five. According to Isuzu their research says most drivers don’t go over the 20,000 kilometre mark in a year. In regards to service: the D-Max sees 12 months or 15,000 kilometre service intervals with the first service just $350. Second year service is $450, with year three $500. Make it to Year 4 it’s down to $450, then it’s $340, $1110, and year seven is $400.

At The End Of The Drive.
The MU-X is much like the Pajero Sport, the Trailblazer, the Pathfinder. All based on a ute with off-road ability, they’re clunky, agricultural, but still manage to deliver a form of comfort and there’;s the added extra flexibility of the third row seats. Isuzu is a truck maker, not a small sedan or hatch maker, and it shows. There’s value and that appeals, but for real appeal the interior and handling need a serious lift.

Isuzu has seen increased sales of the D-Max range, ahead even of its sibling by any other name, the Colorado. It’s a vehicle that really wins on price, a modicum of ok good looks, and possibly an appeal to those that don’t need what others seem to see as required. It’s an earnest, basic, no frills machine, and with pricing now backed by an extended warranty, there’s more appeal there. Those looking for a higher level of safety, a quieter driveline, and ride quality need to look elsewhere. If it still grabs your attention, go to the Isuzu website

Playing Big In A Small SUV: Kia Seltos

It’s a big market that has small(ish) SUVs selling almost as quickly as they come off the production line and Kia has revealed details of the forthcoming Seltos. There will be four specification levels: S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line. Kicking off at around $26K the S will have 16 inch alloy wheels. Up front will be halogen driving lights, whilst inside will be cruise control, an 8.0 inch touchscreen that will have the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto apps, whilst safety in the entry level will have Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, rear camera and sensors.

The second level Sport is slated to be sub $30K also and will roll on 17 inch alloys, plus the spare is looking to be a full sizer. Aircon is climate control, and the touchscreen goes to a HD style 10.25 inch. Kia keeps baiting the hook with the Sport+. Seats will be wrapped in cloth and faux leather and front pews, plus the tiller, will be heated. The top of the ladder GT-Line will appeal even further with a sub $40K price tag. That brings LED driving lights and their now traditional ice cube fog lights. Factor in mood lighting, venting for the front seats, and a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones, and there’s plenty to like. All cars will have LED headlights and tail lights.
Exterior design cues harken to the outgoing Soul with a hint of Volvo XC40 in the rear window line. The traditional “tiger nose” grille is here with a new, raised, diamond look. Depending on trim, tyres will be 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18. Paintwork is taken up a level too, with a vibrant choice of colours. Cherry Black, Snow White Pearl, Steel Gray, Gravity Gray, Mars Orange, Neptune Blue, Dark Ocean Blue and Starbright Yellow will be available in various markets and this also covers a two tone offering. Buyers can select the roof in Cherry Black, Platinum Gold or Clear White to go with the various body colours.Sizewise the Seltos nudges at a medium SUV, with 4370mm in length and overhangs of 850mm. The wheelbase, of 2,630mm, provides plenty of human friendly space inside. It’s possibly the biggest for space in its segment and that includes the bootspace of 498 litres VDA or 752 litres SAE. Front seat passengers will enjoy up to 1051mm legroom, 1409mm shoulder space, and 1017mm headroom. Basic trim will be greys and blacks, however the materials will be soft touch, and the seats will have geometric motifs. Engines will be a 1.6L turbo four with 130kW and 265Nm, a naturally aspirated 2.0L with 110kW and 180Nm, and there will be the familiar drive modes of Eco, Sport, and Normal. The smaller turbo engine will power either the front or all wheels via a seven speed dual clutch auto, with the other running a new for the brand CTR, and again front or all wheel drive. Suspension tunes were finalised here in Australia and will be a mix of torsion beam rear and MacPherson strut fronts for the two wheel drive. Multilink rears will handle the AWD versions.Expected Australian sales will commence in the fourth quarter.

SUV Favourites

SUVs are popular, and the reason for this is because they offer motorists increased safety, plenty of cargo area, and interior space is good for seating comfort.  There is plenty of SUV choice out there and, with diesel, petrol, electric and hybrid options available, a new SUV buyer has plenty to think about before making their final decision on which SUV to buy.  Ultimately, their choice will come down to their own individual preferences, their driving habits and on what they can afford to buy.  Here are some of the best SUVs you can buy new in Australia.  The list is not exhausted, but the following SUVs are popular for good reason.

Mazda is the favourite SUV for Australians.  Mazda’s popular CX series includes the small CX-3, mid-size CX-5, big CX-8 and largest CX-9 models.  They all boast nice clean design which always looks good, and their modern styling has given Mazda an edge.  Offering a wide range of SUV sizes in their line-up, Mazda has what you need when it comes to SUVs.  Mazda’s CX SUVs all drive very nicely, and are efficient, safe and reliable.  Buy one of the new Mazda CX Series vehicles and you can’t go far wrong.

We all know that Toyota is a very strong contender on all vehicle matters.  When it comes to a new Toyota SUV you know that you’re going to get a very well built vehicle that lasts the distance.  You can get yourself one of the larger well-known Land Cruiser and Prado models that boast very competent off-road ability.  However, Toyota’s SUV line-up also includes SUVs with light off-road capabilities in the form of the RAV4 and Kluger models which are surprisingly spacious and nice to drive.  For those who like the thought of owning a compact SUV, Toyota offers the chic C-HR which is beautifully stylish and funky.  The RAV4 Hybrid is going to be a hit for those who will appreciate its fuel economy and low emissions.  Again you can’t fault Toyota reliability, safety and overall value.

Mitsubishi offers the Outlander, ASX and Eclipse SUVs, and with their highly accomplished Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle).  This is definitely a brand worth looking into for your next SUV drive.  On all accounts Mitsubishi SUVs are stylish, well-equipped, safe and practical, remaining clockwork reliable for many km after purchase.

A new Subaru Forester or Outback SUV is always going to look great parked up your driveway, and they do look somewhat sleeker and even sportier than typically chunkier SUV drives.  Do check out the spunky little ‘XV’ which is sporty and characterful.  For driving satisfaction, safety and new car reliability, Subaru have for a long time been very strong.

Plenty more Kia SUVs are running on our roads, and this is for good reason.  Kia Sportage and Sorento SUVs are excellent medium-to-large SUV models that are rugged, reliable and stylish.  New Kia SUVs are very well equipped and safe SUVs to drive.  They are pleasant to drive, can tackle off-road excursions with AWD, and they remain reliable and practical SUVs throughout their ownership.

Honda give us their sleek HR-V and CR-V models which look good, remain ever-reliable, and on a practical note sing sweetly with good fuel efficiency to boot.  There are many loyal Honda fans out there, and the new SUV models are solid buys.  Buy a luxury CR-V and you’re in for a treat.  The car has plenty of smooth power, practical space, nice comfort levels and plenty of modern technology.

Nissan brings a good level of choice for new SUV buyers.  All Nissan SUV models (which include the: smaller Juke, medium-sized Qashqai and X-Trail, and the larger Pathfinder) are very stylish to drive.  Their top of the range varieties offer premium luxury and are very well-equipped.  Pathfinders and X-Trails do have some clever 4×4 drivetrains which can take you more off-road places than you might expect.

BMW appeals as a luxury SUV choice, and for good reason.  BMW ‘X’ SUVs are polished performers that do a whole lot of things very well.  Space is good, comfort good, economy can be good, and handling is very good along with performance.  With plenty of models available in the ‘X’ series the SUV buyer has loads of choice – large or small and anything in between.  And if the standard ‘X’ series variants aren’t exciting enough, you can always upgrade to the ‘M’ versions which are star performers in their field.  They boast sportier features, too.

Audi is another premium brand that is selling surprisingly well in the SUV market.  The SUV luxury brand offers an extensive range of vehicles that are known as Audi’s Q range.  Like BMW, Audi have SUVs that can be of any size – from the small Q2 right through to the big Q7 and Q8.  If you’re looking for something with more power, then Audi’s ‘S’ range may set your heart racing.  Audi tend to go out of their way to keep their buyers happy over long term ownership, too.  Stylish definitely, and if you can stretch to the bigger Audi Q7 or Q8 you’ll drive an SUV that has becoming quite a status symbol in it field.

Holden has a few interesting SUV options that are well worth a look, and the range is one of the larger line-ups currently available in Australia.  The Acadia, Equinox, Trailblazer and Trax are all available and well equipped vehicles.  Ongoing ease of servicing, a nice driving experience and overall satisfaction are what make owning a new Holden SUV a good choice.  If you can find yourself a top of the range Holden SUV then you’re going to be driving a very comfortable SUV.

Volvo has some very stylish SUV vehicles that are safe, efficient and easy to drive.  Their comfort levels and equipment are hard to beat, and they come in three flavours from the smallest sporty XC40, the mid-size XC60 and the awesome and large XC90.

Hyundai, another Korean brand, is doing really well on a global scale with an ever increasing fan base.  You’re sure to find a Hyundai SUV to suit your needs.  Three SUV models are available: the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe.  A Hyundai SUV is stylish, easy to live with and rides and performs very well.  They are also pretty reliable machines, safe and relatively affordable considering the level of equipment offered.

Finally, Ford always has an SUV to suit your tastes.  Well made, practical performers, the Ford SUV range is comfortable and well-equipped with loads of goodies and great infotainment technology.  Small to large, the range of Ford SUVs is good.  The EcoSport, Escape, Endura and Everest will all make a fine companion that will reliably cart your family and gear around.

There are other SUVs out there that haven’t been mentioned, however, if you feel the need to put a good word in for a particular model, please feel free to do so.

Mitsubishi Global Reveal: 2020 Pajero Sport.

Mitsubishi has unveiled the new look Pajero Sport. Formerly known as Challenger here in Australia, the Pajero Sport for 2020 is scheduled for “early 2020” as a release for the Australian market. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.It will be powered by the same 2.4L MIVEC diesel and power down via an eight speed auto. Exterior design cues see the Pajero Sport dipping further into the “shield” look up front, with effectively a transfer of the Triton nose over to the Pajero Sport, with the driving lights in each corner a little larger. The much maligned teardrop rear lights have been shortened in length, stopping above the rear bumper with a reprofiled bumper featuring reflectors. The rear tailgate is powered on the upper level models and has a handsfree (read: kick operated) release system. Sitting above the rear door is a wind deflector.Inside sees a new digital dashboard instrument cluster in full colour. The centre screen is also in colour and at 8.0 inches in diameter. Mitsubishi also now offer an option for some functions that is a smartphone based app. The Mitsubishi Remote Control can send a note to advise the driver that doors were left unlocked, for example, and the tailgate can be raised or lowered. In addition, the tailgate reservation system can be preset by smartphone anywhere, which enables the driver to open or close the tailgate automatically when they approach or leave the vehicle. This is Bluetooth operated.
There has been an upgrade to the interior trim with extra padding to door and dash, a revamped console, and a storage tray that’s accessible from more angles. USB power ports are now backed up by a AC socket for the rear of the centre console.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist are now standard outside, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to the touchscreen system. Pricing and spec for the Australian market will be released later.

Car Review: 2019 Isuzu D-Max LS-T X-Runner & LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu four door D-Max utes in LS-T and LS-U trim. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. The LS-T was fitted out in the limited edition X-Runner kit. The LS-U in standard trim is $45,990 driveaway and the X-Runner is $54,990 driveaway. Isuzu have increased the prices through the range, with the LS-T in non-X-Runner trim up by $1,000 to $51,990. The LS-U also came fitted with a lockable roller tonneau, snorkel air intake, and a “roo-bar” with LED spotlights. The LS-T has restyled wheels and gains, along with the LS-U, Highway Terrain or H/T tyres, as opposed to the All Terrain or A/T as previously fitted. These have had the effect of affecting handling. The roof rails and the lower strakes to the grille are now black, and the side steps are subtly different.Under The Bonnet Is: The rackety clackety 3.0L that makes 130kW and a thumping 430Nm of torque. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from a slightly smaller engine as found in the Holden Colorado…At just under 1000rpm there is 300Nm and that peak torque is on tap through a narrow rev range of just 500rpm. There’s still 350Nm available at 3,500rpm but it’s a very noisy exercise taking the engine past 3,000rpm. It’s possibly one of the noisiest diesels available in a passenger vehicle when pushed even moderately. It bolts to a six speed auto with sports shift and an electronic low range locking system.Economy is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined, 9.5L/100km for the urban, and 6.9L/100km for the highway from a 76L tank. We tested the X-Runner on a drive loop to Thredbo, Bega, and return, covering just over 1260 kilometres. Economy stayed at around 8.0L/100km throughout the whole trip, a decent figure considering the weight of the ute (1930kg dry) and the extra 300 kilos of passengers and baggage. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, leather appointed for the LS-T. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted, with some electric motion for the driver in the LS-T. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the rear passengers at this trim level. The LS-T is a push button starter, with a traditional key for the LS-U. Both cars came fitted with rubber floor mats front and rear. Only the driver has a one touch window up/down switch in both. The centre console houses the dial for the two or four wheel drive modes, and there are two bottle/cup holders. The driver and passenger have a pull out cup holder, and each door has bottle holders.Sounds come via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, with AM/FM, Bluetooth, no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, CD, USB and 3.5mm inputs, and even a HDMI connection. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is in dire need of a redesign and revamp, with one of THE most outdated looks seen in a passenger oriented vehicle. It’s lacking in visual appeal on every single screen. Hit the non-Auto headlights and there is no adjustment for the screen for day or night time driving. It also has a driver alert warning on engine startup and annoyingly will NOT switch off after a delay.The driver faces a basic looking but functional dash, with a pair of dials bracketing a display screen that shows trip distances, economy, expected range, and the diesel particulate filter status. Australian spec cars have the right hand stalk as the indicator and the left as wipers, and each has a button at the end of the stalk to access the screen info. The wipers themselves aren’t auto nor is there an Auto headlight setting. This is an oversight in the interest of safety, as a driver can too easily not switch the lights on.Actual switchgear is reasonably well laid out and accessible. The centre stack features Isuzu’s standard aircon controls, with a huge dial for temperature as the hub. Fan controls are on one side, mode on the other, and the dial itself shelters a small LCD screen to indicate what’s going on. the dash itself is a double scallop design, with a stitched leather look to the materials. Fit and finish is mostly ok however the leading edges of the doors have a gap of about a centimetre to the plastics wrapping the windscreen. There is a centre of dash storage locker that Isuzu don’t seem to have found a fix for in regards to the latch. It repeatedly failed to open.On The Outside It’s: similar but different. the X-Runner came in pearl white and has blackouts and logos spread over the metal. The nose has a bright red Isuzu as do the centre caps for the 255/60/R18 rubber and wheels. The LS-U has 255/65/17s. There are sidesteps here also on both and only the LS-U gets rear parking sensors. The LS-T had a lockable roller tonneau, a standard rollbar, and came fitted with a heavy duty steel roo-bar complete with LED spotlights. Otherwise it’s the same blocky profile with a wedgy looking nose.The rear of the LS-U had a lockable metal cover. It’s a roller mechanism which, on this particular vehicle, failed to allow itself to be pushed back. Something in the lock mechanism appeared to have jammed and although the key and button would allow a push and turn, the cover itself refused to move. the X-Runner LS-T has no cover fitted to the test car but there are tie down hooks, which came in handy for the long drive.The cargo section is 1,552mm in length in the four door utes. A maximum width of 1,530mm is here also and allows just over 1,000 kilos of payload.

Out On The Road It’s: Rackety clackety noisy. Think of being in a passenger jet on take-off where it’s fire and brimstone. Get to cruise altitude and it’s quieter. Landing where it’s off-throttle and there’s the background idle. That’s the 3.0L in a nutshell. It’s a determined load lugger too, and in no way can it be considered sporting. There’s a moment of turbo lag before the engine gets lively, and even then it’s a relaxed, don’t hurry we’ll get there, proposition.The transmission is mostly smooth, will drop a cog or two for downhill runs and engine braking, but will exhibit moments of indecisive shifting as well. On a normal acceleration run it’s slurry with hints of change, will downshift after a pause when the accelerator is pushed, but it’s a leisurely progression forward.

On the upside it’s a brilliant highway cruiser. That relaxed attitude sees the legal freeway speed ticking the engine over at 1800rpm and it’s here that it’s in airplane cruise mode. You know it’s there but it’s settled into the deep thrum that eventually becomes background noise. There is some road noise and the handling shows that the mixed terrain tyres are a compromise at best on tarmac. The front end of the D-Max is prone to running wide and it’s not helped by a steering ratio that has the nose move barely from a quarter to half turn of the wheel. It’s great when off-roading where that flexibility is needed, but normal driving needs something tighter. Also, the steering isn’t as assisted as that found in the MU-X, meaning more arm effort is required.The nose lifts as the D-Max goes into a turn with an uphill inclination, and occasionally this had the steering lighten to the point that a back-off from the accelerator and dab of the not-that-excellent brakes brought the rear around and shifted the weight to the front. In one particular turn of this nature the nose ran wide enough that it threatened to pull the vehicle into the bushes on the opposite side, and this was at the posted limit for the turn.

Brake pedal feel is numb, with an inch or so before there’s a sensation of grip, and the actual pedal travel and feel lacks communication. With a vehicle weight of over two tonnes there needs to be more confidence fed through to the driver.Ride quality varies from average to too jiggly. On highways the pair show reasonable manners as long as the surfaces are flat. Hit jiggly surfaces and the D-Max becomes less sure footed, less confident. Tighter corrugations confuse the coil sprung front and leaf sprung rear suspension completely and the ute wanders around, riding the tops of the corrugations but has not grip to stabilise and lock in a direction.

The four wheel drive system is electronic and Isuzu call it Terrain Command. Up to 100km/h the car will accept a change to 4WD high range, but for low range it must be stopped, and the transmission placed in neutral. A push of the cabin dial, a clunk as the transfer case engages, and the D-Max shows its chops. Although high range was engaged coming into Thredbo, it was close to the village itself due to a lack of snow. Therefore in Bega some river fording showed the ability and if there is a highlight of the driveline it’s the willingness to pull and push the ute in situations like this. By the way, this is the only drive mode change available, there are no programs for Snow, Mud, etc.Approach angle is 30.0 degrees, with a departure angle of 22.7 degrees. Rollover angle is good too, with 22.3 degrees available.

The Level of safety Is: Average. The mandated safety systems are here, there are six airbags, Hill Start and Hill Descent control are here but there is no Autonomous Emergency Braking, no Blind Spot Detection, no Rear Cross Traffic Warning. However, the ABS is a properly sorted four channel system and the reverse camera is of a reasonable quality.And The Warranty Is: Now up, to counterbalance the price rise, to six years/150,000 kilometres. Roadside assistance is also six years, up from five. According to Isuzu their research says most drivers don’t go over the 20,000 kilometre mark in a year. In regards to service: the D-Max sees 12 months or 15,000 kilometre service intervals with the first service just $350. Second year service is $450, with year three $500. Make it to Year 4 it’s down to $450, then it’s $340, $1110, and year seven is $400.At The End Of The Drive.
Isuzu has seen increased sales of the D-Max range, ahead even of its sibling by any other name, the Colorado. It’s a vehicle that really wins on price, a modicum of ok good looks, and possibly an appeal to those that don’t need what others seem to see as required. It’s an earnest, basic, no frills machine, and with pricing now backed by an extended warranty, there’s more appeal there. Those looking for a higher level of safety, a quieter driveline, and ride quality need to look elsewhere. If it still grabs your attention, go here.

 

BMW Ups The X6.

BMW is unveiling a new edition of the X6 Sports Activity Coupe. The new BMW X6 is available from launch in xLine and M Sport model variants as an alternative to standard specification. There’s been an exterior restyle and increase in size. The new BMW X6 has grown by 26 millimetres in length compared to the model it replaces, and is now 4,935 mm. It’s grown by 15 mm in width to 2,004 mm and sits lower by 6mm at 1,696 mm. The wheelbase has also increased, and is now 2,975mm, up by 42mm.The line-up of engines available for the new BMW X6 from launch includes two petrol units and a pair of diesel variants from the latest generation. The model line-up is spearheaded by a BMW M model with a newly developed 390 kW V8 petrol engine. The BMW X6 M50i quotes fuel consumption combined as 10.7–10.4 l/100 km with CO2 emissions rated as 243–237 g/km.

There is the BMW X6 M50d which is frugal at a combined: 7.2–6.9 l/100 km. CO2 emissions combined are 190–181 g/km, whilst peak power is 294 kW from the six-cylinder in-line diesel engine which packs a quartet of turbochargers.

The BMW X6 xDrive40i  has a straight-six petrol unit with an output of 250 kW. Fuel consumption for the engine is rated as 8.6–8.0 l/100 km for the combined cycle. CO2 emissions combined are 197–181 g/km. The BMW X6 xDrive30d rates fuel consumption on the combined cycle as 6.6–6.1 l/100 km and CO2 emissions combined as 172–159 g/km from a six-cylinder in-line diesel with 195 kW.

All variants of the new BMW X6 fulfil the requirements of the EU6d-TEMP emissions standard. The M Sport exhaust system fitted as standard on both M models is also available as an option for the other versions of the BMW X6 or as part of the M Sport package, and gives the car an unmistakable and emotionally rich aural presence. Standard transmission is an eight speed Steptronic and a torque-split system divides between front and rear on demand. Normal drive sees the power sent to the rear wheels and bias is also rear wheeled in dynamic driving environments. Opt for the M Sport spec and an electronically M differential lock is fitted to the rear axle or in the xOffroad package.BMW’s signature kidney grille is front and centre, with the outermost edges nudging the headlights. BMW also now offer the grille with backlighting.  The illumination is activated by opening or closing the car, but the driver can switch it on and off manually too. This lighting function for the kidney grille is also available while driving.

Laserlight LED headlights are optionable. When fitted, a BMW Laserlight spotlight with Selective Beam optimises the high beam function and ensures a non-dazzling drive for oncoming traffic. Range is up to 500 metres. When activated, BMW Laserlight can be identified by the blue x-shaped elements inside the signature BMW twin headlights.

The new X6 rolls on 19 inch alloys which are standard. 20 to 22 inches are optionable.  The BMW X6 M50i and BMW X6 M50d come with 21-inch light-alloy wheels as standard.

Suspension is in the form of a double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle. BMW says this gives them the tools for a dynamic drive and ride comfort on the road, plus unshakable traction off the beaten track. BMW’s bespoke Dynamic Damper Control is included as standard. There is also the Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering. It’s said to endow the car with exceptionally agile and dynamic driving qualities. Air suspension for the front and rear axles have automatic self-leveling. Height adjustment of up to 80 millimetres is part of the air suspension. For those bold enough to hit the dirt, BMW also offer an off-road package is available for all model variants. But the X6 M50i and X6 M50d are counted out on this option. The off-road package provides extra progress in Snow, Sand, Rock, and Gravel driven areas. Inside is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Say “Hey, BMW” and the digital assistant will respond to the enquiry. There is also personalisation available in the form of providing a name for the assistant. Extra tech is in the shape of a 12.3 inch fully digital LCD screen for the high-resolution instrument cluster and Control Display.

Naturally there is plenty of safety tech too. Standard specification includes Cruise Control with braking function and the Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking. Cyclist detection is included. Active Cruise Control with Stop/Go is also standard. The Driving Assistant professional includes the Evasion Assistant which is another component of the Driving Assistant Professional.  Rear collision warning, road priority warning and wrong-way driving warning systems, crossing traffic warning, Lane Change Warning and the Emergency Stop Assistant are also standard. Contact BMW Australia for a test drive here

 

HSV SportsCat Ready To Pounce.

Four wheel drive four door utes are amongst the biggest sellers in the Aussie market but it’s not an easy job to make them look tough and ready for an all-in brawl. HSV somehow manages to pull that off with their warmed over version of the Colorado. Packing a 147kW/500Nm diesel (with auto transmission), the SportsCat is more than a “whack on a sticker pack” effort. It’s now into its Series2 offering and it looks the goods, visibly and underneath. It’s available in two spec levels, SportsCat V and SportsCat SV.
Engineered to pound the ground, and hard, SportsCat has uprated frontsprings, stiffened to cope with 110 Newtons per millimetre of impact stress. This translates to far less body roll and movement when getting serious or even taking it easy on the freeway. The rerated suspension also has the front raised by 25mm, increasing the travel available and increasing ground clearance. HSV also call upon SupaShock Suspension to help in the ride and handling.
Connected to six-spoke 18 x 10 wheels wrapped in specially developed Cooper tyres, the dampers from SupaShock, available as factory fitted options, are larger diameter items. By reducing losses of response to friction they are more quickly able to adapt to the ever changing needs of on and off-road driving. Factor in a HSV engineered decoupling bar for the rear axle anti-roll bars, which increases stability at speed by controlling the roll attitude of the rear end, it activates when the SportsCat’s drive system is put into 4WD Low. It’s standard on the SportsCat SV and optionable on the SportsCat V.

Stopping power comes courtesy of the AP racing package. as fitted to the HSV GTS-R, it features four pistons callipers, 362mm x 32mm front rotors to haul down the big machine. These are standard on the SportsCat SV, optionable on the SportsCat V.
Inside and upfront, SportsCat features a reworked interior, including six position adjustable electric seats for driver and passenger. There is specific HSV trim on the dash, doors, and on the steering wheel. The seats are bespoke HSV, with embossed headrests, leather, and Windsor Suede. Outside HSV have a optionable sailplane for the roll-over bar.
Tech and safety are in the form of Remote Start, Front and Rear Park Assist,Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag. Towing is rated as up to 3.5 tonnes. These are backed by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assist package.

Pricing is as follows: SportsCat V six-speed manual is $62,490, with the SportsCat V six-speed auto ticking the box at $64,690. Move to the upper level and SportsCat SV with six-speed manual is $66,790 and SportsCat SV six-speed auto tops out at $68,990. Here is where you can find out more.

Hyundai’s Tucson Refreshed And Updated.

Hyundai Australia has released details of the 2020 refresh for the Tucson range. There is a four trim level choice and that’s courtesy of the addition of the Active entry level model. Active X, Elite, and Highlander are the others. There are upgrades to the safety systems, exterior and interior updates, and minor changes to pricing.

Active and Active X can be specced with a six speed manual transmission and are priced at $29,290 and $32,290, or with a six speed auto will be $31,790 and $34,790 respectively. Power comes from a 2.0L petrol engine, and prices are before government and dealership charges. Tucson Elite dips out on the manual but can be ordered with the 2.0L and auto for $37,850.

Move up to the 1.6L turbo four, seven speed dual clutch auto, and all wheel drive system, and Elite & Highlander price out at $40,850 and $46,500 respectively. Turn to the oiler, and that’s a 2.0L capacity unit driving all wheels through an eight speed auto. Hyundai offer that in all grades and prices are $37,090, $40,090, $43,150, $48,800 respectively. Premium paint is a $595 option and to call upon the nicely styled beige interior is $295.Safety is upgraded courtesy of a rear park assist system being added to the Active. Hyundai’s SmartSense package is standard here and in the Active X which includes Driver Alert Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with a City/Urban camera system, Forward Collision Warning and Rear Park Assist. Alloy wheels are standard across all four models with the Active and Active X getting 17s and 18s respectively. The Active has a driver’s window up/down on-touch switch in addition.

The Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, (FCA) in City/Urban works from a windshield-mounted camera reading the road ahead. Should it “feel” that a collision is possible, the Forward Collision Warning System will make a noise and show a signal in the driver’s information cluster. It’s a system that works between 8 kmh and up to 180kmh. Forward Collision Avoidance Avoidance Assist – City Urban pairs up with FCW to hit the stop pedal automatically if the system judges no human intervention after an alert. This works between 8kmh and 65kmh. Elite and Highlander gain radar sensors to complement the camera and Hyundai extend the name to City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian. At speeds of between 10kmh and 80kmh the package brings the car to a complete halt.

Specification levels increase in sophistication as the range moves from Active to Highlander. Items such as rear camera, DAB audio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are common throughout. Active X has leather appointed seats, for example, and some electrically powered adjustment for the driver’s seat. The Tucson Elite has a cooling system for the glovebox, rain sensing wipers, and puddle lamps. The Highlander has a powered tailgate, and a wireless charging pad, plus bending LED headlights.
All models have the very handy Hyundai AutoLink, with the Highlander available via a SIM based connection. The other three connect via Bluetooth. This provides information such as driving analysis, driving history, contact with Hyundai dealers to book a service, and in the Highlander, real time weather updates, remote access to start/stop, and remote access to the climate control system, amongst other features. Hyundai also entice owners to have their Tucson serviced at a Hyundai dealership by including a ten year satnav upgrade plan and a ten year roadside assist plan.
Contact your dealer for a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Diesel.

This Car Review Is About: A big, comfortable, and very well equipped vehicle from Kia. The top of the range Sorento GT-Line is a diesel powered seven seater that lacks for very little to appeal to those needing a SUV that isn’t intended to be an off-roader. The Sorento range is powered by either a 3.5L V6 or a 2.2L diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.2L diesel for the GT-Line. It’s a quiet chatterer thanks to a mix of refinement and noise insulation in the engine bay and under the aluminuim bonnet. 147kW is available at 3,800rpm, and a whopping 441Nm of torque on tap between 1,750 rpm and 2,750 rpm. It’s a great long distance hauler, with an easy, loping attitude thanks to a freeway speed ticking the engine over at around 1,500 rpm. Kia quote 6.1L/100km for the highway cycle and this was bettered, albeit by 0.1L/100km. Overall economy, driven mainly in the urban jungle, finished at 8.2L/100km, with Kia’s urban cycle quoted as 9.2L/100km. Transmission is an eight speed auto putting that power and torque down via the front wheels, with torque split to the rear on demand. There is also a diff-lock for the rare excursions into a bit of mud or dirt.What Does It Cost?: $58,990 plus on road costs and metallic paint. That’s just $595. Capped price servicing applies for the seven years of warranty, with a yearly service or 15,000 kilometres. the most expensive service is year 4 at $684. At the time of writing Kia are doing runout deals for the Sorento range.On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the third row the delightfully simple pull-strap design. A gentle tug, a pull of the strap backwards to lift the seats, or a tug and gentle push to lower them, and it’s something nearly all makers now use. The centre row is bordering on ideal for three adults, it’s certainly fine for two growing children. The left seat is set up to be slid to allow entry for the rear seats, and both centre seats are sliding & folding. The driver has an eight way powered seat, with the front pews heated, vented, and the driver having a heated tiller. Leather seats are a bit cold to touch in the cooler climes however the heaters take the edge off, but the rate of heating could be improved for a more rapid response.The dash is typical Kia but starting to show its age in one area. Manufacturers have moved to the touchscreen being raised up in its own plinth. This is for safety as it’s closer to the driver’s eyeline and not looking downwards. The screen here is super clean, intuitive, and is DAB/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible. The DAB tuner has the same issues as the other Kias tested recently, with inconsistent signal acquisition and dropout. The plastics in the Sorento are of an almost leather look and have a fine grained finish to them. Open the front doors and Sorento glows a soft red at night in the sills.The dash display itself lacks a HUD but the dial for the speed is fully digital. It also shows which drive mode the driver has selected from the four available: Smart, Eco, Normal, and Sport. A centre screen section shows info such as range, driving distance, trip meter and economy.Auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, rear camera and guidelines, plus 360 degree camera are part of the interior fitment and everything is precisely laid out, showing Kia is well on top of the human engagement part of interior design. The Sorento also comes with a full length glass roof.On the Outside: It’s refinement, refinement, refinement. Compared to a Sorento design of, say, a dozen years ago, it’s recognisable as part of the family but obviously a modern design in its own right. It’s a two box design, with a bonnet that dips towards the imposing Schreyer “Tiger Nose” grille, whilst the body behind the windscreen has a smooth silhouette with a slightly odd angle for the rear window/tailgate. The tail gate is powered, of course.

There are LED driving lights, LED tail lights, LED headlights and are self levelling. Kia calls them Dynamic Bending Lights. It’s a big vehicle with a physically imposing presence too. Length is 4,800mm, width is 1,890mm, height is 1,690mm with roof rails. Wheelbase is 2,780mm and virtually joined by the GT-Line’s sidesteps. But with just 185mm of ground clearance it’s certainly not anything other than a soft-roader.Wheels for the GT-Line Sorento are 19 inch alloys and wrapped in 235/55 rubber from Kumho. Thankfully Kia also fit a full sized spare here, not the restrictive space saver spare.What About Safety?: Kia load the GT-Line with the supreme pizza, free drink, and free delivery, it’s that packed. All Sorentos have the mandated electronic aids such as stability control, traction control, and the like. Kia also add the Euro inspired Emergency Stop Signal which flash the indicators when the brake pedal is pressed harder than normal. AEB and Forward Collision Warning is standard through the range as is Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Alert, which would, annoyingly, tell a driver to have a break after just thirty minutes of driving.

Where the GT-Line goes further is Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Where it doesn’t go further is by having six airbags, not a driver’s knee airbag.

Out On The Road It’s:
a superbly relaxed highway cruiser. That low revving engine and where the torque figure comes in makes for a low stressed package. It’s mostly a responsive engine to, mostly. Unusually, the engine in the review car showed measurable turbo lag and in the scheme of things it was a considerable amount. Start the car, move along to a junction, wait to clear traffic, press the pedal and…..there’s a yawning gap before it suddenly sprints forward, rather than moving away in a linera fashion. That linear fashion is shown though when under way, where the response is spot on.

Roll downhill and the transmission will quietly downshift with barely any physical sensation at all. There’s a flicker of the needle on the rev counter, a slight change to the muted chatter from up front, and the engine is well within its useable torque range. In the highway cycle and with the throttle feathered, there’s hardly any indication of the engine working, with the tacho sitting at around 1,500rpm. Give the go pedal a nudge and the chatter goes up in volume but is not intrusive. Road noise, though, on the coarser chip surfaces, was.

Handling is predictable, wit the front end tending toward a hint of understeer in normal driving. Back off the throttle and it’s easily controllable, bringing the nose back in nicely. The steering itself is well balanced but a touch numb, leaving the driver feeling a touch isolated from what’s happening. Go for the stop pedal and there’s more communication here, with a centimetres of dead travel before a progressive descent where the right foot can judge exactly how much pressure to apply.The suspension is well sorted, naturally, with a flat ride, minimal body roll, and dampers that bring the chassis to a controilled state swiftly. Go hard into a corner and the body remains unflustered, poised, and under hard braking there is is dive, but again it’s minimal. The ride overall is supple, compliant, and makes those shopping centre carparks a minor annoyance.

At the End Of the Drive.
Kia’s Sorento is the sister vehicle to Hyundai’s Santa Fe, and the Sorento, as good as it is, is now showing its age inside. Kia’s DAB tuner supplier also needs some work, as other companies have far better tuners. However it’s still fantastic value, a great drive, well featured, and economical. It does look as if a new Sorento isn’t far off as Kia are doing run-out deals at the moment. Head here for more info: 2019 Kia Sorento range

Kia Loses Its Soul, Finds Its Seltos Instead.

Kia has released more details of its compact SUV to be called Seltos. Due for sale in the second half of 2019, the Seltos replaces the Soul but has strong familial looks to the outgoing car and more than a hint of SsangYong Tivoli. To be built in both India and Korea, the Seltos is said to be a showcase car of technology. Featuring a 10.25 inch touchscreen as the centrepiece inside, it has the ability to show a split screen and customize the screen to display up to three applications simultaneously. The driver, therefore, can choose to have a single display (such as navigation) or combine different elements on-screen.

Seltos will add in new feature lighting and an optional Sound Mood Lighting system, which will emit soft light from panels in the doors. This includes a unique 3D-patterned surface on the door panels. The Sound Mood Lighting system will pulse in time to the beat of music playing through the audio system and will allow a user to program from eight customisable colours and six themes to illuminate the cabin. The Seltos will also offer the UVO CONNECT telematics system. As more and more makers move into interconnectivity, UVO CONNECT blends the usage of smartphones and the car’s touchscreen.

Part of the technology brings live data such as traffic flow and information, weather updates, and something to look at in a points of interest for a good country drive, for example. An app will back this feature up, with data from trips and news about the Seltos itself. The UVO system is free to users for the first three years, and includes stolen vehicle notification and tracking, safety alerts, auto collision notification and emergency assistance. Sounds come from a Bose 8 speaker system and the driver has an 8.0 inch HUD for instant information in the eyeline.

Power is courtesy of three engines. A naturally aspirated 110kW of 2.0L, a turbo 1.6L with 130kW, and a diesel to produce 100kW from 1.6L will be available elsewhere with the Australian market to receive the turbo petrol and standard petrol. The 2.0L will drive a CVT and will be front wheel drive, with the turbo petrol an all wheel drive and seven speed dual clutch auto. Naturally the Eco/Normal/Sport modes will be standard.
The body itself share the same stocky stance as the Soul; there’s a steeply raked windscreen sitting behind a bluff and solid looking nose with Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille and LED lights for the front and rear. Turn signal lamps have a deep 3D design and even the fog lamps are LED. The actual design is intended to show off a sense of assertiveness. This is emphasised by a solid shoulder line and character lines on the bonnet. Depending on model, the wheels and tyres are high-grip 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18 tyres.
Contact Kia to prebook your test drive.